Justice for Wolaita victims in South Ethiopia -WCHR

(WCHR) – 2018 has been one of the most deadly years to be a Wolaita-Ethiopian. Without urgent accountability against the mass murders in southern Ethiopia, we believe history will repeat itself with more unnecessary bloodshed.

The Wolayta Committee for Human Rights (WCHR) has been documenting the numerous massacres of Wolaita people, ethnic cleansings and widespread abuses in Awassa, Shashemena, Leku and other towns of the south.

To this day, September 13 (Meskerem 3), there has been no indictments for the murderers and no compensation for the Wolaita victims.

Hundreds of Wolaitas have been hanged, killed and burned by Sidama mobs (Ejjeeto aka janjaweed) between months of early June and late August; while thousands of Wolaita-owned houses and businesses have been burned down.

The exact reasons for these crimes is not always known as Wolaita have been killed sometimes during sudden riots and at times via calculated attacks instigated by Sidama officials and online “activists.” Also, Some Sidama youth falsely blame Wolaita for their unemployment troubles in Awassa while others falsely believe we are against their statehood demands.

The Ethiopian government must address this crisis before it is too late.

Even after some regional officials resigned after admitting Sidama security involvement in these massacres, the perpetrators have not been arrested or charged. Not a single Wolaita businessman has been compensated for millions of birr in losses; while almost 100,000 Wolaitas are currently displaced.

Instead of accountability, we have been stuck in a cycle of fake “investigations” and kangaroo courts. Thus we expect these killings and ethnic cleansings to continue upto and beyond the Sidama referendum vote for independence.

We don’t want politicians to address this crisis, we need civil society and federal prosecutors. The last time, Jawar Mohammed, an Oromo politician from America organized a conference with mostly Sidama politicians and the following days more Wolaita businesses were burned and vandalized by emboldened Sidama mobs.

Currently, there is no impartial individual, body or institution that is trustworthy and capable of providing justice or mediating between the two sides in SNNPR.  The federal government must be actively and directly involved as soon as possible.

Just like Addis Ababa, Hawassa is the symbol of the socio-economic Ethiopian advancement that results from peaceful multiethnic co-existence. If Dr. Abiy will protect Addis Ababa as federal city and its independent administration, he must also do the same for Awassa.

He can start the process by bringing the mass murders of Wolaita people to justice and by placing Awasa institutions & prisons (so-called “Jail Wolamo”) under federal jurisdiction as soon as possible.

Contact us at WCHRawasa@gmail.com

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